US /

Another State's Controversial Immigration Law Is Blocked

Iowa law is similar to one in Texas that was already put on hold
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 18, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Judge Blocks Iowa's Controversial Immigration Law
FILE - People march during an Iowa Movement for Migrant Justice rally and march, Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked an Iowa law that would have allowed law enforcement in the state to file criminal charges against people with outstanding deportation orders or who previously had been denied entry to the US, the AP reports. US District Court Judge Stephen Locher issued a preliminary injunction because he said the US Department of Justice and civil rights groups who filed suit against the state were likely to succeed in their argument that federal immigration law preempted the law approved this spring by Iowa lawmakers. He stopped enforcement of the law "pending further proceedings." "As a matter of politics, the new legislation might be defensible," Locher wrote in his decision. "As a matter of constitutional law, it is not."

The Iowa law, which was set to take effect July 1, would let law enforcement file charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the US. Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a judge's order to leave the US or be prosecuted, potentially facing time in prison before deportation. In approving the law, Iowa's Republican-majority Legislature and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said they took the action because the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden wasn't effective in controlling immigration along the nation's southern border.

In arguments last week before Locher, the state said the Iowa law would only enable state law enforcement and courts to apply federal law, not create new law. Federal authorities determine who violates US immigration law, Patrick Valencia, Iowa's deputy solicitor general, had argued, but once that is determined, the person also was in violation of state law. However, the federal government and civil rights groups said the Iowa law violated the federal government's sole authority over immigration matters and would create a host of problems and confusion. The law is similar but less expansive than a Texas law, which was in effect for only a few confusing hours in March before it was put on hold by a federal appeals court's three-judge panel. The Justice Department has also announced it would seek to stop a similar law in Oklahoma.

(More Iowa stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.